Today, US authorities announced that Norwegian industry, like other European countries, including Denmark and the Netherlands, has been awarded the responsibility for component maintenance for several technology groups for the F-35 partnership.
Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace and AIM Norway have been given the main responsibility for building up a capacity within the assigned component groups. The Norwegian Defense Industry early on chose a cooperative model in which the companies Berget AS, Kitron AS, Techni AS, Vinghøg AS and Widerøe Technical Services AS also contributed their expertise to the overall Norwegian offering. This collaboration model has been appreciated by the international program.
Altogether, there are almost 400 repairable parts on the fighter plane, divided into groups that have mutual synergies. Norway has been awarded two such groups: one for hydromechanical components such as pumps, actuators and filters, and one for weapon release systems, including so-called pylons.
“It is very gratifying that Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace and AIM Norway have been given responsibility for the component maintenance for several categories in Europe, but we must remember that there are several small and medium-sized companies that are also part of the Norwegian winning team,” says State Secretary Tone Skogen in the Ministry of Defense. “The Government has worked purposefully for Norwegian industry to win in the competition for contracts that support the weapon system F-35, and it is gratifying that Norwegian industry has proved competitive also in terms of maintenance assignments for our new combat aircraft.”
Norway participates as a partner in the development and further development of the aircraft itself, which has given Norwegian industry the opportunity to compete for services as well as sub-production for aircraft and engine.
So far, in the production phase, this has provided contracts worth more than NOK 4.5 billion, and deliveries are planned up to 2034. These new allocations provide opportunities for maintenance, and if Norwegian industry succeeds in developing the maintenance within the Assigned the component groups, it could imply contracts of significant value also during the lifetime operations phase, which may extend for 50 years.
The Government attaches great importance to the maintenance and further development of the cooperation between Norwegian and American industry in connection with fighter aircraft acquisition. Established industrial cooperation will help strengthen industry's competitiveness, increase its knowledge and technology base and create ripple effects for other sectors. The goal of industrial cooperation within the F-35 program is to ensure, over time, national value creation in the same order of magnitude as the aircraft's acquisition.
Industrial partnerships among partner nations have, since the beginning, been based on the principle of "best value", in which the industry in the partner nations competes for assignments. The concept is chosen to ensure high performance and low life-cycle costs for the F-35.
Previously assigned maintenance assignments
In 2014, together with two other European nations, Norway was appointed to establish the capacity for maintenance of the F-35 engine. AIM Norway AS was appointed to establish this capacity, and is in the process of building a depot at Rygge. This is planned to be completed by 2020. Several Norwegian companies are also involved in the maintenance of special equipment as subcontractors to Lockheed Martin.
The acquisition of F-35 has given Norwegian industry opportunities to become suppliers in one of the world's most advanced technology programs, which provides unique strategic opportunities. The production of the F-35 will continue for more than 20 years and it is planned to produce more than 160 aircraft per year as the program reaches maximum production rate. Participation in the program involves a significant increase in competence that qualifies the companies to become a supplier to other advanced technology programs outside the F-35 program - and with the F-35 as a reference.
In order to supply the F-35 with the operational capacity that the Air Force needs for both surface targets on the sea and land targets, Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace is developing the Joint Strike Missile (JSM).
The last part of this development program was approved by the Storting in the spring of 2014 and has a framework of about NOK 4.7 billion, making it one of the largest-ever technology development programs in the Norwegian land-based industry.